An Israeli-American recreational pilot was killed in a fiery plane crash in New York Tuesday morning when his single-engine Cessna dove into a Long Island backyard.
Hanan Shoshany, 53, a Tel Aviv native and resident of Jamaica, Queens, who had seven years of flying experience, was flying his Cessna 400 plane from Farmingdale’s Republic Airport to Islip’s MacArthur Airport in poor visibility conditions when the aircraft went down, narrowly avoiding a house.
On Tuesday, Federal Aviation Administration officials were trying to determine if Shoshany, who was flying through low clouds, tried to radio for help prior to the crash. Eyewitnesses said that before the plane went down, the pilot managed to maneuver it between two houses in an effort to prevent loss of life – indicating that he was aware he was losing power.
At around 9:05 a.m., the plane plummeted into an overground pool in the backyard of a family home on Camille Lane, in Long Island’s East Patchogue area, clearing the house by just a few meters. It burst into flames, consuming the pool and causing a window in the house to shatter.
The house caught fire briefly, but its inhabitants, a year-old infant and his mother, were evacuated safely. A local American Red Cross worker told CBS that the baby was asleep at the time of the crash. After hearing the impact, his mother rushed out of the shower, scooped him up and ran across the street to the Red Cross building. Shards of glass from the shattered window were later found by the infant’s crib. The family dog, Jezebel, ran away and did not return.
Shoshany, originally from Tel Aviv, was the only one on board the plane. A father of five and grandfather of two, he owned a children’s clothing store in the Bronx called Jeans Star.
Shoshany’s relatives in both New York and Israel mourned his death, calling him “brave and skilled,” CBS reported. According to the report, his rabbi also came to the crash site.
His family was trying to make arrangements to return his body to Israel, according to the New York Daily News.
The newspaper quoted Shoshany’s nephew, 33-year-old Brooklyn resident Tomer Tal, as saying Shoshany was an “angel” who was well-known in his local community.
“He was going to get something for his plane at the airport, then come back. He didn’t come back,” Tal reportedly said. “He was a known man in his community; always smiling, always had good energy, great attitude; always helping with whatever was needed. He was an angel.”
The US aviation and safety authorities were investigating the circumstances of the crash.